Shopping online can be very convenient in a variety of ways. Being able to shop from the comfort of your own home and even be able to comparison shop within a matter of minutes is hard to pass up. Unfortunately, shopping online also comes with its own risks. There are less than honest people out there who try to steal information from online shoppers, whether by lifting their credit card number, getting their personal identifying information, or committing screen scrape. Before you shop online, it is vital that you understand how to prevent online fraud, like screen scrape and keep your information private.
Stealing the private information
You have likely heard of criminals who lift private information by following keystrokes. Another method they use is called “screen scrape.” In this method, they simply steal the private information that you share on your social networks. Many people do not consider the number of people who could be viewing the information they put on the internet. In these cases, it is easy for criminals to steal their information right from the website. This type of online fraud is easy to prevent because it simply requires you to be careful of the information you share on your social networks. It is not advisable to share any type of private information, no matter how few people you think are seeing it along the way. All social networks run the risk of being watched, making your information very far from private.
There are a variety of ways which criminals might use to steal your identity. You can prevent it from occurring by choosing only reputable sites to shop from. If you are unfamiliar with a store, read its reviews with the Better Business Bureau and check out the steps the site takes to ensure its security. A few simple things to look out for include the presence of a physical address, a real phone number, and the presence of a secure connection in the address bar of their website. If any of these items look less than secure, it is best to avoid shopping at this store.
Keep your software updated
Even if you have the most careful eye and think you are shopping at a reputable store, you could still be a victim of identity theft. In order to prevent this from occurring, it is essential that you have updated antivirus and anti-spyware on your computer. Keeping up-to-date with your security software will help your computer fight the criminals by stopping them from getting your personal information. Since virus and spyware threats change on a daily basis, it is crucial that your software is continually up-to-date through automatic updates as well as renewal on a yearly basis.
Know your privacy rights
You have every right to read the privacy statement of any company with whom you are planning to shop. This policy should tell you exactly what information a company will gather about you and how they plan to use it. If you cannot find a privacy statement, avoid shopping with that company. If you do not understand how they will use your information, either ask about it or shop somewhere else. Many companies will provide choices about how they use your information; make sure you use your ability to exercise your rights to ensure that your information is kept safe.
Keep information to a minimum
When you shop with a company for the first time, they might try to gain more information from you in order to better target their advertisements. While it is understandable why they might want to do this, it may be more information than you need or want to provide. Try to be very choosy about the information you give to merchants. When you’re selective, there may be less information out there to risk having stolen.
Shopping online can be quite the convenience, but it can also put you in harm’s way. Before you start shopping, it is essential that you understand its dangers and how to get around them. Shopping online does not have to be forbidden, as long as you understand how to avoid criminals getting access to your information. If you are active on social media sites, it is also essential that you know how to prevent online fraud, like screen scrape.
When you do find a store at which you want to shop, make sure you give as little information about yourself as possible and always understand how your private information will be used. If you have the option, elect for your private information to be kept private to ensure that it does not wind up in the hands of criminals.
Jacob Marsh is a regular contributor for Real Business.
Share this story